The Service Experience – Thus Far

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This reflection was written by AmeriCorps Member Thomas Brennan. He works on Asheville Habitat’s New Home Construction team.

“This first quarter has been an amazing experience for me as I worked on all of the houses in our Candler neighborhood (Curry Court), which includes 4 single homes and 8 townhomes. In these past few months I started learning all of the construction skills I want to learn and use as I develop my career – including wall framing, stucco, flooring, painting, roof installation, insulation and more.

I have made more 80-year old friends than I ever would have thought! And I have worked with, and learned about, some of the amazing future homeowners as they slowly picked away at their “sweat equity” hours.

My time so far has been meaningful to me in a few ways, the first being it has been extremely beneficial in helping me start to understand what type of field I may want to go into. One of the reasons I wanted to take on this experience was to see if I enjoyed doing construction and to see how the whole project was run. I have learned so much, and I have also gathered priceless tips, stories, and advice from my many volunteer friends.

The second reason is that I have learned so much about affordable housing and our community. I was not aware of the lack of affordable housing and the unfortunate reasons behind it. This new knowledge has pushed me to further help our future homeowners, and made me start thinking about ways to address the problem and consider alternative solutions. As I drive around and explore new areas I am now always considering prices of land/buildings and what could be turned into housing alternatives.

The third reason my service so far has been meaningful, is hearing how thankful the future homeowners are, and how their lives will be changed. What they may not realize is I am just as thankful for them and their stories. They will continue to stay with me and influence my life as well.”

Want to hear from other AmeriCorps members who have worked with us in the past? Watch this video.

 

A Daily Exercise of Gratitude and Generosity

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By Zoe Trout

Beasley Family

The Beasley Family

Sarah and Andrew Beasley are always looking for ways for their children, age four and nine, to be more involved in giving back to their community. Like many parents, they want their children to be generous and kind, good citizens of the community. However, with limited options for children to volunteer in our area, they have struggled to find meaningful ways for their kids to give back. A way that Asheville Habitat involves kids in its work and mission is through a calendar activity called A Month for Habitat for Humanity. child receives a cardboard house bank and a calendar and are asked to follow the daily activities. The calendar has a different activity each day such as, “For each room in your house, deposit 10 cents… Add 5 cents per window in your house…. If you have a garage door opener, deposit 35 cents.” The activities require the participant to observe the house they live in and recognize and appreciate how much they haveand it offers them a way to give back.  

The Beasley children received the house banks one Sunday from their church. They attend Grace Episcopal Church, a longtime partner in the Episcopal House XIII. The Episcopal House is built every other year and is sponsored by Buncombe County Episcopal Churches and the Episcopal Diocese of WNC. Churches provide funding and volunteer on the construction site to build a house, which is then sold to a qualified homebuyer. 

The Beasley family enjoyed spending the next month counting their blessing, and filling their banks with money to donate to Asheville Habitat. Sarah told us, “Not only did this activity involve our whole family counting light fixtures and air vents, but it also involved a great reallife math problem for my son (who loves math) to add items and convert it to decimals.” The reallife math really engaged his attention, she added. According to Sarah, it was so magical to have conversations about housing and gratitude everyday with her children. “My fouryear old daughter asked what we were going to give to our house each morning after breakfast.”  

To learn more about A Month for Habitat for Humanity or to get your own calendars and banks, please contact Zoe at ztrout@ashevillehabitat.org. Thank you! 

Click here to see the calendar.

 

 

 

Serving Country and Community

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On Veterans Day and every day, we are grateful for the veterans on our staff and in the ranks of our volunteers who serve our community every day.

Innovative Solution to Community Need

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Members of PODER EMMA and staff from Asheville Habitat’s Home Repair team came together to protect manufactured home residents and build community by having a community safety day to install new door security plates and solar-powered, motion-activated lighting.

Behind the Scenes at the Asheville ReStore

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If you’ve visited the Asheville ReStore, you’ve probably noticed we aren’t your average thrift store. With two levels, and around 27,000 sq. ft. of retail floor space, we more closely resemble a Home Depot than a neighborhood second hand store. Our free pick-up service for larger items and convenient donation drop-off lane keep our showrooms full of home building supplies, appliances, cabinet sets, and home furnishings- items that, for the most part, you won’t find in smaller thrift stores.

With a large showroom full of every type of furniture and appliance you can imagine, it makes sense that our process for receiving donations is also quite different from your average thrift store. Instead of going directly to the sales floor in “as is” condition, items dropped off at the Asheville ReStore are sorted and taken to their respective processing stations for inspection, cleaning, testing and repairing before being delivered to the sales floor. With over 15,000 sq. ft. of floor space dedicated specifically to donation processing, our meticulous process of receiving donations is part of what sets the Asheville ReStore apart from other area thrift stores, and ensures quality products are delivered quickly and efficiently to our sales floor.

Sorting Area

We have an amazing team of dedicated volunteers who assist our staff in making this process possible. They show up multiple times every week to fulfill very specific parts of the process.  Whether it’s receiving, sorting, cleaning, or repairing donated items, these volunteers keep our stores stocked with quality, clean, and functioning products. Let us introduce our team to you!

Pam and Michelle

Michelle Ender is the matron of our housewares station. She, alongside volunteers, ensure that all linens and dishware get the attention they need before heading up to stock our shelves. Several days each week you will find Michelle’s dishwasher, washer and dryer running nonstop to make sure the housewares section is stocked with clean, quality items.

On the far side of the housewares station lives the small electronics station. Skip Stansell, Jim Perkerson, and Al Gribble are the small electronics gurus.  Each lamp, clock, rice cooker, crockpot, and every other small electronic item with a plug gets tested and, if possible, repaired in this station. Every item then receives a sticker verifying it was tested, and stating our 30 day guarantee policy. Can we just say how grateful we are to these guys?!  Don’t you love purchasing a pre-used electronic item at a thrift store knowing that it’s been tested and comes with a 30-day guarantee?  That’s a bonus at Habitat and unique for a thrift store.

Small Appliances Team

To the other side of the housewares station lies the large appliance testing and repair station. Each stove, oven, dishwasher, washer and dryer that comes into the ReStore also gets tested, and repaired if possible, before going to the sales floor.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays you will find David Garver, Gary Stefan, Richard Stiles, Arnold Willen, and Bruce Tettemer diligently testing, repairing, and delivering large appliances to the sales floor. Those that can’t be repaired are stored in the basement to provide a supply of parts for future large appliances that may need them.

Large Appliance Team

Books are another item that get meticulous attention at the Asheville ReStore. We have volunteers dedicated to sorting and researching each book title that comes in before being placed on shelves. So that if a rare title comes in, we know about it and can share it with you!

Of course there are always items that don’t make the cut or meet our standards for what is salable. But even then we do our best to minimize what we send to the landfill. All of the metals that can’t be sold eventually head to the scrap yard, but not before Warren Reif puts hands on each and every piece. He is a pretty cool guy, by the way. In addition to being an avid macro photographer and Arduino creator/maker, he volunteers to sort each piece of metal destined for the scrap yard by type.

Warren Reif

This reduces our waste as much as possible, and creates a revenue stream that supports our mission.  And next door to Warren’s sorting station you’ll find John Harvin regularly working away to make sense of all the random hardware pieces that come in throughout the week.  John gives generously of his time to both of our locations.

John Harvin

This is only a small sample of all the amazing volunteers who contribute their time and effort each week at the Asheville ReStore.  There are many others we hope to highlight in the future.  At the Asheville ReStore, we truly are giving your gently loved home goods a new life.  Living up to our name, we actually restore your generously donated items to extend their life cycle and meet our customers’ needs.  Whether you shop, donate, or volunteer at the ReStore, you are part of a process that not only gives new life to old items, but ultimately gives a new start at life to many families in our area.

An 828 Where Everyone Can Afford a Home

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By Beth Russo

Living in the 828 is great! Whether you’ve been here for generations, or just got here as quickly as you could, the Western NC area – particularly Asheville – is a warm, welcoming place with great places to eat, drink, recreate, and relax.

Asheville also has a heart of gold when it comes to supporting the causes that make our community great. At Asheville Habitat for Humanity, we’re grateful to this group of businesses who offered their support of our first-ever #build828 day! Each business donated a portion of sales to the Business Bungalow House on August 28th (828 day).

828 Hats | Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours | Biscuit Head | Dynamite Roasting Co. | Ginger’s Revenge
| Maggie B’s Wine & Specialty Store | Sawhorse Restaurant | Still Point Wellness | Summit Coffee | The Hop Ice Cream Café and the Hop West | UpCountry Brewing

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Blueprint Sponsor New Morning Gallery in front of the 4th Business Bungalow House in Curry Court.

We are so glad for the partnership of these local businesses. If you patronize them, please say thank you!

We’d also like to give a great big shout out to the good folks at Asheville Brewing Company. During the month of August, they showed two short videos for us – one pointing people to our new ReStore in Weaverville and the other educating people about our monthly giving program, #build828.

While the local community was pouring love and support into #build828 day and the 5th Business Bungalow House, another collection of businesses have been pledging support and helping us build out at the jobsite. The financial support that local businesses provide – whether as a Housing Champion, Blueprint Sponsor or at a higher level – helps make affordable homeownership possible. Every dollar adds up to an affordable Green Built home that another local family or individual can purchase.

Finley Family

Future homeowner of Business Bungalow House #5, Belinda Finley, a mother and systems courier at Mission Hospital, is looking forward to paying an affordable mortgage rather than costly rent– and saying goodbye to $400/month heating bills. Habitat homes are certified energy-efficient with heating/cooling costs not exceeding $35/month. Read more about Belinda here.

Local businesses know that our entire community is stronger when residents – and employees – have decent and affordable housing. We love the 828, and the people and businesses who make it a great place for EVERYONE to live.

To learn more about joining our monthly giving club, #build828 – contact Zoe Trout at ztrout@ashevillehabitat.org. If you have a business and would like to learn more about sponsorship and Business Bungalow House #5, please contact Beth Russo at brusso@ashevillehabitat.org.

Welcome This Year’s Service Members!

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By Maddy Alewine, Communications Specialist

Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity is pleased to add seven new team members who, through programs including AmeriCorps, VISTA, and Hands and Feet of Asheville, are beginning their year of service. Service program participants significantly increase Asheville Habitat’s ability to empower Buncombe County residents with affordable housing.

Their impact is felt in nearly every corner of the organization. On the construction side, Jeannie Goldenberg and Chris Nolan have begun their year with the Home Repair team and will be joined by another AmeriCorps member, Lucas Hanson, in October. Accompanying Asheville Habitat’s three full-time Home Repair staffers, the AmeriCorps members double the team’s efforts to reach the fiscal year goal of 70 families served through the Home Repair program.

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Americorps Mackenzie Hampson served from 2018-2019 with the New Home construction team.

“We would not be able to meet this aggressive goal without the increased capacity provided by our AmeriCorps members,” notes Home Repair Manager Joel Johnson. “Specifically, having AmeriCorps members has enabled us to work with partner agencies to do more Aging in Place work in the past 12-18 months. This program serves some of the most vulnerable people in our community and is an increasingly large part of our team’s work.”

On the new home side of construction, Thomas Brennan is now leading volunteer groups in the building of new affordable homes at Curry Court in Candler. And in the administrative office, Krysta Osweiler, Cecily Schenimann, and Deanna McDonnell are working behind the scenes on volunteer management and recruitment, family services support and outreach, and office management.

While Asheville Habitat benefits from the generosity of these talented and driven individuals, participants benefit too. They look back

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Sydney Monshaw, AmeriCorps member from 2017 – 2019 spent two terms with Home Repair. She was recently hired on full-time as a Home Repair Supervisor.

at their service year as immensely rewarding and a powerful growth experience. In the past two years, after completing their terms, three AmeriCorps members were hired on as full-time Asheville Habitat staffers in the ReStore, in new home construction, and in the Home Repair department. Other service year members have gone on to graduate school, joined the workforce, or signed on for another year of service with Asheville Habitat or elsewhere.

Ryan Bing, an AmeriCorps member in 2017-2018 with Asheville Habitat’s Home Repair team, went to graduate school at Clemson University after completing his service year. During his year repairing homes in all corners of Buncombe County, he learned a wide range of technical skills as well as a lot about himself, he said.

“Honestly the nature of our job and the nature of Home Repair, involves doing a lot of unpleasant things sometimes and it can be incredibly humbling,” Bing said. “Not doing it specifically for a thank you or a salary or something like that- is something you can really carry forward in many aspects of life.”

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Ryan Bing, right, working alongside a volunteer during a community project at Asheville High School.

#build828

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Become a member of #build828, a monthly giving club, to support Asheville Habitat’s work of building and repairing affordable housing in Buncombe County.